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Interesting Fact 1
Celebrating a Century as a Parish Hall - Community Ownership 1920
Following World War 1 there was national consensus that those who served and died should be remembered. On a national level the government decided in principle on a national memorial in London which it would pay for. The government made it clear, however, that it would not pay for local war memorials and that these should be the responsibility of local communities. As a result of the informal discussions which ad-hoc groups had been having throughout the country, there was an equally informal blueprint about how to create a local war memorial. This blueprint “emerged” from the public without any government involvement or direction. It was so obviously such a practical and sensible plan that it was followed virtually everywhere, with some differences to take account of local circumstances. The plan had a few basic components:
  • In each locality a local war memorial committee should be formed from members of the public. The forum for electing these committees would be a public meeting called for that specific purpose.
  • It was the responsibility of these committees to raise the funds necessary to build the war memorials
  • It was also their responsibility to decide on the nature of the war memorial preferably after public consultation, and to commission its building
  • Each memorial would have a list of the local men who had died when serving with the colours no matter what form the memorial took. This list would be collected by the volunteers on the committee and made available for checking by the public who could thus try to ensure that no one was omitted.
  • The committee should draw up a plan for the future maintenance of the memorial.
In East Worlington the War Memorial Committee were elected at a well-attended public meeting and consisted of Mrs G Smyth, Miss Hammond, Miss Murch, Messrs. Adams, Chapple, Cox, Hodgson, Hosegood, Shapland, H. Smyth, Stucley, Troake, and F Webber, with Mr Edmonds as Honorary Secretary and Mr Lake as Honorary Treasurer
It was through this Committee that the building was purchased by the community and transferred to the ownership of the Parish Council in 1920.

This is recorded in a press cutting from the Parochial Magazine for the Deanery of Chulmleigh in May 1919
Interesting Fact 2
Celebrating a Century as a Parish Hall

In 1921, the first year as a Parish Hall the accounts show the income was:
  • Dancing Classes £2.12s.6d
  • Profit from Whist Drive and Dance £4.0s.0d
  • Rent and Profit of Dance £1.1s.0d
  • Balance from Parish Hall Fund £21.1s.10d
  • Total Bank Balance in December 1921 £28.15s.4d
Interesting Fact 3
Celebrating a Century as a Parish Hall

Following the conveyancing of the barn from Church ownership to the Parish Council as a Parish Hall it appears from our records that the rector of East Worlington, the Reverend Hodgson, retained a community focus. In April 1923 he hired the Hall for a dance at a hire charge of 10 shillings and on 2nd January 1924 he hired the Hall for the Choir’s Supper for a hire charge of 10 shillings.
Interesting Fact 4
Celebrating a Century as a Parish Hall - Rifle Club

One of the local clubs that hired the Hall was the Rifle Club. Records show Mr Lane hired the Hall for this club in 1923,1924 and 1925. The next reference to the Rifle Club is in March 1931 when Mr Osborne hired the Hall for rifle practice. Mr Osborne again hired the Hall in aid of the Rifle Club in 1933 and 1934. No further reference to the Rifle Club can be found at this time.
Interesting Fact 5
Celebrating a Century as a Parish Hall - Home Guard

The Hall was hired for use by the Home Guard between 1941 and 1943. The Parish Hall Accounts show the following entries with the hire charge.
  • 10 January 1941 £0.5s.0d
  • 09 July 1941 £0.16s.0d
  • 29 October 1942 £2.12s.0d
  • 08 December 1942 £0.10s.0d
  • 31 March 1943 £1.5s.0d
  • 15 November 1943 £0.10s.0d
Interesting Fact 6
Celebrating a Century as a Parish Hall - Polling Station

The Hall has a regular use as a Polling Station. On 5th June 1975 it was used in the EEC Membership Referendum. The photograph shows a resident of the parish arriving outside the Hall to cast a vote.

Interesting Fact 7
Celebrating a Century as a Parish Hall - Plans of Hall dated 1966
Before the current layout of the kitchen in the Hall the plan of 1966 shows there was a kitchen accessed through one door at one end of the stage and a room labelled Cloaks accessed through door at the other end of the stage. The plan shows the kitchen and cloaks as two separate rooms.
Interesting Fact 8
In the Beginning

The earliest records known as Glebe Terriers provide evidence of the date range that the barn was constructed. The document of 1679 indicates a barn built with mud walls and therefore indicates the barn was built before that date.

‘The earliest record that we have of what is now known as East Worlington House is a series of „Glebe Terriers‟ in the Devon Record Office dating from 1605(?), 1613, 1679 and 1727. A „glebe terrier‟ is an account of church land and holdings. The two earlier documents refer only to the land, but the documents of 1679 and 1727 include descriptions of the house and curtilage. The implication of the earliest document is that the parsonage house and its curtilage were established by the early 17th century and probably had a history going back into the 16th century if not earlier still, while the later documents indicate a process of development and change at around the turn of the 18th century.
The document of 1679, having listed the rooms of the house, concludes with a reference to outbuildings, viz:
Dairy with a chamber over it, malt house with a chamber over it, a drift (?) for drying of malt, a barn built with mud walls, a shiping (shippon) and stable.
The reference to a barn built with mud walls (presumably cob) is picked up again in the description of 1727 which states:
The outhouses are a barn consisting of five bays, a sheeping (shippon) of three bays and a stable of two bays all having mud walls and thatch covering…

Archaeologist Report, South West Archaeology
Interesting Fact 9
Use as a Community Facility for Meetings and Other Community Purposes Early 20th Century

A document (East Worlington Kalendar of Quotidian Quotations published by Rev. H. A. Hill in 1910) describes the barn in a similar way to the earlier documents thereby confirming it is the same building. By 1910 the building was being used as Parish Rooms, which indicates an earlier date for use for the purpose. During this period the building was still owned by the church.
He also describes features of how the building had been restored and converted.
Writing his ‘East Worlington Kalendar of Quotidian Quotations’ in 1910, Rev. H.A.Hill was happy to accept that the barn of 1727 – and presumably also that of 1679 - was the very same that had recently been converted into a Parish Room. In 1910 the fabric, he tells us ,’is the same as that described in the terrier of 1727: ‘built of mudd and consisting of five bays.’ The old cob walls,’ he continues, ‘are good and of a soft and matured hue: the roof is of thatch and a pent-house over the doorway has been added and a verandah. Everything has been done in the restoration to preserve the rustic appearance and effect. An old oak window frame with deep moulded mullions was rescued from one of the village cottages, and inserted in the north wall; and two others of similar design have been put in and filled with diamond leaded panes. The courtyard in front has been paved in the old Devonshire fashion…’
Archaeologist Report, South West Archaeology
Interesting Fact 10
Building used as a Devon Dairy School

Around the turn of the 20th Century and well into the Edwardian period of the first decade Devon supported a travelling Dairy School to provide education, mainly for girls, in the skills associated with producing dairy products. Devon Dairy school visited East Worlington and while it is impossible to confirm an exact date photographic evidence supports it presence in the Parish Hall.
Interesting Fact 11
Cheese School in Worlington

Interesting Fact 12
Front Elevation Prior to Foyer and Toilet Addition

Before the foyer and toilets were added in the late 1960s there was a porch over the main double doors and a lean-to storage area on the wall to the south of the door. The photograph below shows the level of the land north of the door at a higher level than the surrounding land.

Interesting Fact 13
Old Barn Floor

When we undertook the work on the main hall we removed the suspended timber flooring and exposed the original surface of the old barn. It is not proven if the barn was originally a Threshing Barn or a Tithe Barn, but in terms of its location and context probably fulfilled both functions. Many ground floors were constructed simply of compacted earth. Rammed chalk floors occur in chalkland areas and these are relatively easy to repair with lump chalk thoroughly wetted and rammed into place. Lime was also used in some examples. The photographs show the hard compacted surface and the white colour which suggests chalk or lime was used on the floor of our barn.

Interesting Fact 14
Hall Used for Electioneering
The Parish Hall records show that the Hall was hired by Mr Nutall, the agent for Sir Cedric Drewe, a British Conservative Party politician who was elected as MP to the House of Commons for South Molton at the 1924 general election. The general election was held on 29th October 1924. The recorded dates of hire are 15th October 1924, which was presumably electioneering, and 5th November 1924, presumably a post-election address.

The Hall was again hired by Mr Drewe’s agent on 28th March 1930 for a meeting. There are no other details recorded. This is interesting in the fact that Sir Cedric Drewe lost his South Molton seat at the 1929 general election, held on 30th May 1929.

Drewe returned to Parliament two years later, at the 1931 general election, for the Honiton constituency. He held the seat until he retired from Parliament at the 1955 general election.

Cedric was the son of Julius Drewe, the English businessman, retailer, and entrepreneur, who had built Castle Drogo at Drewsteignton, Devon.
Interesting Fact 15
Whist Drive
The Parish Hall records show that between 1922 and the early 1990s (maybe after this date but no records support that assumption) a regular use of the Hall was for a Whist Drive.

Prior to WW2 the Whist Drive was often also associated with a dance.

This suggests that whist was a popular pastime within the community.

Whist Drive definition: Whist Drive is a social gathering where whist is played. Whist is played by four players at each table. Players seated opposite one another (partners) compete against the other two players at the table for that particular game. The winners of each hand move to different tables to play the losers of the previous hand.
Interesting Fact 16
Water Supply and East Worlington Parish Hall

Prior to mains water coming to East Worlington the main water supply was from the village pump which still exists, a feature representing part of our local heritage. There is no evidence to explain how the Parish Hall accessed water from this pump and for what purpose, but a first-hand account from a local resident who attended the adjacent school in the 1940’s recollects one of the monitor duties for pupils was to go to the pump every morning and bring water back for use during the day.

Village Water Pump located near the junction of the road to Drayford.

It is a hand operated pump now not in use.

At some point the Hall did install a ‘cloakroom’ facility and this shows in the plans drawn 1966 to make the necessary planning application for a toilet extension to the Hall. There is no evidence to explain if this was a flushing toilet facility and if so no clarity about drainage. The same plans also show a kitchen area and it is most likely water was required for any form of catering.

Evidence from East Worlington Parish Council minutes show that at the meeting on 11 June 1952 the Clerk was asked to find out particulars about laying on the water in the Parish Hall from the North Devon Water Board. It is not clear if at this time mains water was present in the village of East Worlington, but possibly not as there is photographc evidence that mains water supply was laid in West Worlington in 1957.

Mains Water Laying in West Worlington in 1957

Also, at the Parish Council meeting on 4 June 1957 the Clerk was asked to write to the North Devon Water Board and ask them to repair the village pump. At the meeting on 30 September 1957 the Clerk read letters from the North Devon Water Board and Mr I Popham, but the minute does not state what was in the letters.

Eight years after this record it is possible to confirm through a Parish Council record that on
9 March 1965 Parish Councillors discussed the discolouration of the domestic water supply due to the flushing out of the mains and as it was generally understood that notice should be given by the North Devon Water Board before this operation took place the Clerk was instructed to write asking that this should be done in future. There had not being a reply by the meeting on 1 June 1965 but by the 13 September 1965 meeting, a letter from the North Devon Water Board with regard to the flushing of water mains had arrived and was read with the contents noted. The contents of the letter were not recorded.

In the mid 1970’s, the Parish Council wrote to North Devon Water Board about the possibility of bringing the village pump back into service at times of water shortages, but the Water Board did not agree to this.
Interesting Fact 17
Electricity Installation and the Parish Hall

The main sources of information are provided by Parish Council minutes and Parish Hall accounts. It was first recorded in the Parish Council minutes that lighting to the Parish Hall was mentioned at a meeting on 5 October 1951 but there is no reference that this was related to electric lighting. However, at the meeting on 21 March 1955 the Chairman proposed that the Clerk should approach the South Western Electricity Board and make enquiries as to the prospects of getting electric installed in the Parish Hall. This was again proposed and seconded at the meeting on 23 May 1956. It appears that electricity was supplied following this date as at a Parish Council meeting held on 12 November 1956, the foremost business being the installation of the electric in the Parish Hall. It was proposed by Mr F Webber and seconded by Mr R Holmes that ‘we should try and wire the Hall. After discussion it was proposed to have the following lights and appliances fitted if it could be afforded.

4 lights in the main hall one with a regulation flex
1 light gents lobby
1 light ladies lobby
1 light kitchen
1 external light on the corner of the Hall
2 wall heaters
1 power plug in the main Hall
1 power plug in the kitchen
1 boiler

Mr S C Gilbard proposed that the Clerk should get estimates for the above items and then meet again and decide what should be done away with if funds would not allow all. Mr A Hosegood seconded this proposal.

At the meeting on 13 February 1957. The tenders for wiring the Hall were then discussed, after comparing the prices, Mr F Troake proposed and Mr S Gilbard seconded that the Clerk should write to T H Moor Ltd and state that they would accept their Tender if they would take the gas fittings etc. in part exchange. (7 lights, 3 fires, 1 x 10-gallon boiler, 4 regulators, 1 brass connector, copper tubing).

At the meeting on 16 May 1957 the Clerk was informed that he could get in touch with T H Moor Ltd and tell them to start with the wiring of the Hall. It was decided that an additional power plug and two heater plugs should be put in the main Hall extra to the contract.

Mr F Troake proposed there should be a light put over the dart board. Seconded by Mr R Cox.

The Parish Council meeting then ended and was combined with another meeting there the type of heaters to have in the Hall was discussed. It was decided that Mr F Troake and D Keenow should purchase the best they could get for approximately £20 - £25 which should be 4 or 5.

28 October 1957. The foremost business of the meeting was deciding on what type of electric heaters to install. It was decided to purchase two hanging ones at £8 each, 1 focusing wall heater at £5/15/4 and one ordinary bar fire for the kitchen, price £2/14/0.

This timescale is supported by the records maintained in the Parish Hall Accounts. The documents show a payment to T H Moor on 15th June 1955 which related to work on gas fittings suggesting at that time that was the main source of energy for heating and lighting. In line with the Parish Council records payments of £2/15/5 on 5th June 1956, £2/8/0 on 19th February 1957, and £49/4/9 on 8th June 1957 were made to T H Moor presumably related to the electrical work identified in the Parish Council minutes. This assumption is supported by a payment of £24/14/10 to South West Electricity on 8th June 1957 and a further payment of £3/3/0 on 13th December 1957. Further payments were made to South West Electricity is following years presumably for electricity use.

While these records confirm that electricity was installed in East Worlington by the end of 1957 it was clear that by that date electricity had not reach West Worlington. At the meeting on 30 January 1958 Mr F Troake proposed that the Clerk should write to the Electricity Board and ask them the position of having a supply laid on to West Worlington.

It appears that action by the Electricity Board was not speedy in responding as at the meeting on 10 March 1959 Mr S Gilbard proposed and Mr D Keenor seconded that the Clerk should write to the South Molton Rural District Council regarding the supply of electric to West Worlington.

There was no further mention of electricity issues for either East Worlington or West Worlington.
Interesting Fact 18
Lecture Lantern Used at Parish Hall 1917

One piece of evidence that the Parish Hall had community use prior to 1920 was an article that appeared in the Western Times on 26 October 1917 which reported that a lecture on ‘The Western Front, Food Production and War Savings’ had been given by the Rev J P Benson. The article confirms that his wife operated a Lecture or Magic Lantern.

Article in Western Times on 26 October 1917

The magic lantern was a tool which served both to entertain and to educate. In many instances a lecture was read to the audience as slides were projected. Special lecturer's lamps were employed that shone the light directly on to the text yet allowed the rest of the room to remain in darkness. Often these lamps had some sort of signalling device (usually a bell or, more discretely, a tiny flash of coloured light). This signal indicated to the lanternist to project the next slide.
Interesting Fact 19
Evolution of Catering Facilities

There is not a coherent record of the history of the kitchen associated with the Parish Hall but there are pieces of information that offer an account of possible catering facilities at the Hall.

The Parish Hall accounts for 1923/1924 show income for hiring the Hall by Mr Lake for Sports Tea (6th August 1923) and by Mr Hodgson (Rector) for Choir Supper (2nd January 1924) indicating there were some facilities that enabled catering for these events. The accounts record show regular annual entries from 1924 that refer to Harvest Supper which indicates continued use of the Hall for activities requiring catering.

The first document that shows a kitchen located at the Hall was in the architect drawings produced in 1966 as part of the planning application for the toilet and foyer extension.

Plan showing layout prior to 1966

Plan showing proposed layout in 1966

At an undefined time in the Hall’s past the cob wall on the north side of the barn has been cut away and a wooden partition wall with a hatch has been installed between the hall and the kitchen. A clue to when this work may have been undertaken is in the Parish Hall accounts which has an entry showing a payment of £2/4/10 to British Rail on 21st October 1958. It is not recorded what that payment was made for but the north wall above the opening is held up with a metal girder and it could be suggested that this was purchased from British Rail. The accounts also confirm there was work undertaken on the Hall in that year with payment of £34/5/9 made to T H Moor on 24th June and a significant payment of £132/0/0 made to Pel. (not clear who this is or what the payment is for) on 30th December 1958.

The photograph below gives an indication of the thickness of the old cob wall and how it has been removed to form an opening between the kitchen and the hall. A metal beam supports the wall above the opening and has been covered with wooden panelling.

The two doors between the kitchen and main hall were still evident until 2016 when one door was blocked in as part of the Hall conservation and improvement work including the kitchen refurbishment. The two doors are evident in the photograph below taken in 2015.

Views Inside the Kitchen
Inside the kitchen showing the wooden partition wall between the kitchen and the hall, the serving hatch and the cupboard and working surface. This was cupboard was removed in the 2018 refurbishment and new cupboards and worktops installed. The hatch was retained but the style and opening arrangements improved.

The photograph below taken in 1998 shows the inside of the kitchen when the Hall was used as part of a community flower festival event. This was before improvements works undertaken in 1999 / 2000 when the kitchen was fitted with units.

Work was undertaken to improve the kitchen in 1999 / 2000 shown in the photograph below.

In 2018 a full refurbishment was undertaken as shown in photograph below.

Interesting Fact 20
Storeroom Added

Research into the minutes of the Parish Hall dating back to 1963 (the oldest written minute record that exists) it appears that maintenance and improvements to the Parish Hall have been on on-going theme of the work for the Committee. It is fascinating to explore the different priorities at different time in the time line from 1963 to 2018.

One such theme was the creation of a storeroom for the Hall.

It appears that the Hall had a ‘shed’ constructed during its history. During Committee discussions about improvements to the Hall the minute of 1st October 1973 stated ‘Mr Woodland raised the matter of the shed being dismantles. After inspection the Committee agreed to leave it.’ There is no reference to what the shed looked like and was located but the photographs on East Worlington Old Tythe Barn and of The Devon County Dairy School clearly show a construction on the front elevation of the Hall.

AGM 25th June 1974 confirmed Lady Stevens joined the Parish Hall Committee. Lady Stevens and her husband John Mellor Stevens were the owners of East Worlington House, formerly the rectory. The house and associated yard and outbuildings are adjacent to the Parish Hall on the east and south sides.

It appears that there had been some discussion about an outbuilding associated with East Worlington House named as the ‘shed’ in the minutes. The ‘shed’ butted up to the northerly end of the east elevation of the Parish Hall and in line with the part of the Hall that was, and is now, the kitchen.

14th October 1974 Minutes extract. ‘The Chairman told the meeting that signatures had been applied to the ‘transfer document’ to enable the parish hall committee to become legal owners of part of the shed adjoining the hall – when Lady Stevens had signed on her side, some discussions would have to be made about the shed i.e. proposed site of inter-communicating door and also partition wall.’

The minute continued, ‘Mr Symons said that he would like to start a competition in the village to design the whole of the interior of the Hall, so the placing of the doorway would form part of the competition’

The Land Registry Title number DN42722 confirms the transfer of land from Francis Anne Stevens to East Worlington Parish Council dated 25th November 1974.

The plan and diagram below show the land (outlined in red) which is referred to as a shed belonging to East Worlington House and transferred to East Worlington Parish Council.
26th March 1975 Minute extract. ‘New shed extension Entrance door at least 3’6” wide – door to open against shed with window to open (added fire exit). Partition wall in concrete blocks to extend from floor to ceiling.’

2nd May 1975 Minute extract. ‘Messrs Wall – Symons in consultation with Woodland should publish (or get ready) a plan & specification for knocking through doorway between the Hall – Lady Steven Shed: in the meantime, the necessary fire regulations should be looked in to & a report made.’

22nd September 1975 Minute extract. ‘Specifications and estimates had ben sent in by Mr Pullen & Mr Buckingham & these were opened. Mr Pullen’s estimate of £265 was accepted by the Committee & that the work forming a store shed & knocking out a door-way should be completed by Christmas.’

14th February 1977 Minute extract. ‘These were now completed. Mr Pullen account of £262.65p (error amount shown in minutes?) was due for payment however Lady Stevens said that she would like to pay for the door to be put in to the new shed ‘annexe’ would therefore pay £88.50 being the cost of this part of the alterations leaving the Committee to pay the remaining £177. The Chairman thanked Lady Stevens for her generosity & then asked for Mr Wall to give the Committee an interim financial report.’

The Parish Hall accounts support this in respect of a payment recorded as £265.65 made to C. Pullen on 28th March 1977.

In 2015/2016, as part of improvements and conservation of the main hall, an oil-fired boiler was installed in the storeroom and all the electrical supply and consumer unit were located in the storeroom.

In 2016 audio/visual equipment was installed in the hall and the amplifier and electronics were located in the storeroom.

It is clear from the storeroom before 2017 that only a concrete block wall was constructed halfway up the room height, and this finished at the bottom of a wooden A-frame supporting the roof. The A-frame was covered in a chipboard material. In 2017 improvements were made to the storeroom. The old chipboard material was removed, and insulation added between the roof rafters and in the spaces in the A-frame. Plasterboard was fixed to the ceiling and the store side of the A-frame, skimmed with plaster and decorated. A fire protection board was fitted to the East Worlington House side of the A-frame. Following the improvement work substantial shelving was fitted to the storeroom on the partition wall with East Worlington House.

To contact the Parish Hall administrator email worlingtonparishhall@gmail.com or to make a booking email bookings@ewph.uk
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